20 January 2005 18:25 [Source: ICIS news]
WASHINGTON (CNI)--The US Conference of Mayors (USCM) has commitments from top federal officials to consider giving cities advance notice of rail movement of hazardous chemicals through population centres, a USCM member said Thursday.
Bob Young, mayor of ?xml:namespace>
The renewed concerns of US mayors follows the 6 January freight train wreck at
One of three chlorine tank cars that derailed was punctured, releasing a large volume of chlorine gas that caused the nine fatalities, forced some 300 other residents to seek medical attention and triggered the evacuation of 5000 residents - some of whom have yet to be allowed to return to their homes.
Young said he met with Ridge yesterday here in Washington, and that Ridge said he was “well aware” of USCM concerns about rail movement of hazardous materials as expressed in a letter Young had authored and USCM member mayors signed earlier this week.
Young quoted Ridge as saying he is “quite concerned” and that he will ensure that the issue of early warning of hazmat rail cargoes “is added to the DHS railway agenda for discussion.”
FRA’s Jamison, said Young, also assured the USCM that municipal alerts will be looked at anew. Young quoted Jamison as saying: “This is something that has long been discussed but never seems to get done, and I promise that this will be looked at.”
Young said the fatal wreck at Graniteville - which is about 30 miles northeast of
He said it “must be possible with today’s technology” to give cities across the US advance notice when chemical or other hazardous cargoes are to be moved by rail through or close to population centres.
“There must be a way to do this,” Young said, “without disrupting commerce. We recognize that we need chlorine and we have to have trains carrying it.” He said the USCM’s renewed call for an early warning system “is not an attack on industry or the railroads” but an effort to get “an alert system for municipal first-responders so that we all will be better prepared when these sorts of accidents occur.”
“We mayors,” said Young, “are not saying that this has to be imposed by federal regulation or federal law; we’re not saying that. We’d be delighted if the railroads would just do it themselves, without involving the federal government. But something has to be done, one way or another.”
Young, who leads municipal government for the nearly half-million residents of greater
The Washington, DC-based USCM includes nearly 1200 mayors of municipalities with populations of 30 000 or more residents.
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